We recently spent a few days driving the range-leading, second-gen Toyota Urban Cruiser 1,5 Xr Auto and share our impressions with you.

In 2021 Toyota South Africa introduced a small crossover in to the market called the Urban Cruiser. The newcomer was an instant hit selling about a thousand units a month on average. Small crossovers are the fashion at the moment and the new model had a Toyota badge, both helped its sales success. It didn’t seem to bother many people that the car was, in fact, built by Suzuki in India.

Follow Double Apex on Instagram and Facebook where we share more car content.

Fast forward two years and the original model (called the Brezza) was discontinued by Suzuki. As a result the first Urban Cruiser had a short shelf life in SA. A second generation Urban Cruiser was introduced to the local market earlier this year. It also shares the bulk of its underpinnings with a Suzuki, this time called the Grand Vitara, but it is built by Toyota.

Click here to read about the modern-day Toyota Tazz.

Initial Impressions

Toyota’s design team has taken a massive departure from the forebear. You’d hardly tell the two are from the same family. One onlooker asked if we are driving the new RAV4 such is the difference in appearance. The new-agey appearance takes the shape of split headlamp units. A pair of slim DRLs are sited high on the facia while the driving lamps are lower down in the bumper. The slim theme is carried over to the taillamps as well.

The overall shape is quite boxy, which adds to practicality. We’d have preferred a slight larger set of alloys to fill out those wheel arches a bit more. It is immediately evident that the newer Urban Cruiser is a much larger car than its predecessor. Toyota says the newer version is 370 mm longer than before. Over 100 mm of that has been added to the wheelbase, adding to the legroom on offer for rear-seat passengers. Its ground clearance has also been increased to a handy 210 mm.

Simple Inside

The interior treatment of the Urban Cruiser is far more traditional in its execution. There are simple pair of dial ahead of the driver for engine and road speed. There is even a traditional/analogue heat gauge, not something that you see too often in new cars these days.

Centre stage on the facia is a touchscreen infotainment system. The full-colour screen has all the usual connectivity options, Bluetooth as well as Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. There is also a single USB port just ahead of the gear lever.

While there is keyless start and an climate controlled HVAC system, we found two odd omissions on this range-leading Xr derivative. The first is a rear wiper, there isn’t one, although it was much-needed in the depths of a wet Cape winter. The other is auto-on headlamps, which is standard on a wide variety of cars these days.  

The seat coverings in the Urban Cruiser 1,5 Xr are cloth, as with the rest of the range. There is plenty of knee/legroom on the rear bench seat. Although the rear back rests do feel rather upright. The seat backs fold in a 60:40 split to increase luggage volume. 

One Engine

There is just one engine option across the Urban Cruiser range. That would be a 1,5-litre inline four. Maximum figures of of 77 kW/138 N.m are produced by the naturally aspirated unit. Buyers can opt for a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, as per our test unit. The engine is no firecracker, but it does have enough poke to zip around the urban jungle.

We found the auto’ trans responded well to throttle inputs. We do, however, feel that this car would be much nicer to drive with a five- or six-speed automatic. This was made evident on the open road where the change over point between 3rd and 4th gears was just about the national speed limit. As a result the transmission would swap between these two cogs quite frequently.

Toyota quotes a, quite optimistic, fuel consumption average of 6,1L/1oo km for the Urban Cruiser 1,5 Xr Auto. We managed 7,2 for our week-long use. That’s about 20 per cent higher than the claim, but still pretty impressive for a small engine that we used on the open road for most of its loan period.

Smooth Sailing

One of the Urban Cruiser 1,5 Xr Auto’s finest traits has to be its impeccable ride quality. The well damped suspension impressed us from the get-go. It simply soaks up bumps and road imperfections without bothering the occupants. This is probably also thanks to those high-profile tyres mounted on the standard 17-inch alloys.

The cabin is well insulated from the world outside. This makes for relaxing cruising and fuss-free motoring. That is when the transmission isn’t shifting gears…

Summary

Most of the world has gone gaga over crossovers and SUVs. They have replaced family sedans and hatchbacks as the preferred model of transport for most. Most mainstream automakers have an SUV-type product for just about all tastes and budgets. The same holds true for Toyota.

The Japanese auto giant has all the bases covered from the Land Cruiser at the very top the entry-level Urban Cruiser. The latter provides an entry point to Toyota’s SUV portfolio. It is a well-resolved product with few flaw at a competitive price. Expect it to be as popular as its namesake was a few years ago.

Model: Toyota Urban Cruiser 1,5 Xr Auto

Price: R369 900

Engine: 1,5-litre inline four

Transmission: four-speed automatic, FWD

Max power: 77 kW

Max torque: 138 N.m

Top speed: 175 km/h

0-100 km/h: n/a

Fuel consumption: 6,1 L/100 km